FUNDING for a vital service for stroke patients in Gloucestershire is being withdrawn at the end of the month, it has been confirmed.

The position of Gloucestershire’s stroke coordinator – created to set up local support groups for people who have suffered a stroke – is not being continued when funding ceases on March 31.

The service was launched after the Government made short term funding available to county councils for stroke services, following the publication of the National Stroke Strategy in 2007.

In Gloucestershire, the funding was used for a three-year contract with the Stroke Association to set up community support groups including Stow, Cheltenham and Painswick which were to become self-sustaining when the funding ceased.

Letters have now been sent out to people who use the service to confirm there is no more funding available.

But Sue Sandars, who suffered a stroke in 2010, fears the groups might not carry on without a Stroke Association co-odinator.

The 51-year-old, of Mill View, said: "We've benefited from the service the last three years, it's the people who come in the future that will be affected.

"I can talk reasonably okay but the older people in the groups they might not feel up to running a group.

"I work part-time but that really takes it out of me and I don't think I could run a group and all the bits and pieces that go with it.

"I know for our network we will continue to meet but for older groups such as the one in Stow I don't who would want to take that on. It's a crying shame."

Simon Bird, Head of Operations for the Stroke Association in the South West, said: "We are looking at practical ways of ensuring the groups can continue to meet and support each other, sharing good practice from other parts of the UK where this works successfully.

"We very much hope that people will continue to work together with our additional support to strengthen the stroke community.

"We are saddened but accept that the funded service was always given a set timeframe and understand that the CCG is looking into different options for how best to support stroke survivors and their carers in the county."

Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "The Health and Social Care community remains committed to improving services for stroke survivors, to support them in making better recoveries and rebuilding their lives.

"Other services already in place in Gloucestershire include a befriending service where ‘befrienders’, who have themselves experienced a stroke, can support people who have more recently had a stroke, a conversation partner scheme to help people recover their speech and communication skills after a stroke, and specialist support at home to help people recover quickly immediately after leaving hospital.”